Thelonious Monk Competition, gala returns to L.A. in November

Philip Dizack
Trumpeter Philip Dizack is among the contenders for the Thelonious Monk trumpet competition.
(Steven Sussman)

The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz has unveiled that its annual gala and competition will be coming to Los Angeles this fall.

A nonprofit organization dedicated to furthering the message of jazz around the world, the institute’s highest-profile effort is its annual competition, which in recent years has been held at its home base of Washington, D.C. The gala was last held in Los Angeles in 2008, which included that year’s saxophone competition.

Each year focuses on a different instrument, and this year’s trumpet competition features 13 contestants, including Marquis Hill, Adam O’Farrill, Alphonso Horne, Billy Buss, Philip Dizack, Japan’s Mao Sone and others. The young nominees have already performed for a variety of jazz luminaries, and the semifinals will be at UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall on Saturday, Nov. 8 and are free and open to the public. The winner will receive a $25,000 scholarship and a recording contract with Concord Music Group.

Previous artists honored at the Monk Institute’s competition include Gretchen Parlato, Jane Monheit, Ambrose Akinmusire and Ben Williams. Akinmusire will also serve on the panel of judges for this year’s competition along with Randy Brecker, Quincy Jones, Arturo Sandoval, Jimmy Owens and Roy Hargrove. Winners will receive a $25,000 scholarship and a contract with Concord Records.


The finals will be at the institute’s gala at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood on Nov. 9. In addition to the competition’s three finalists, those scheduled to perform include Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Pharrell Williams, John Mayer, Jimmy Heath, Terri Lyne Carrington and Ron Carter. The gala will also honor former President (and saxophonist) Bill Clinton, who will receive the institute’s Founder’s Award.

The Thelonious Monk Institute’s educational branch offers full scholarships to its students and has fostered a wealth of up-and-coming jazz talent. After being based at the New England Conservatory of Music, the institute was part of USC’s Thornton School of Music for eight years before relocating to New Orleans’ Loyola University in 2007. In 2012 it returned to be based on the UCLA campus in partnership with the university’s Herb Alpert School of Music.

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